Opening Remarks at the President's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Benjamin Franklin Room
Washington, DC
October 7, 2011

Well, good morning and welcome to the Benjamin Franklin Room here in the State Department. And I think this is a very appropriate place to be discussing the importance of creating jobs in our country and broadening the base of prosperity and keeping America’s edge in the world, because, of course, Franklin was the first of many things and in many respects he was an innovator and an entrepreneur. And so we’re here with him looking over our shoulders.

I am delighted to welcome all of you here today and particularly to thank you for participating in the President’s Jobs Council work. I know that the Department of Commerce and other of our domestic agencies are fully engaged and focused, but I also know from the preliminary work that the Jobs Council has already done and the conversations that I’ve had with some of you, that we understand that growth at home depends on focus over our economic engagements with the rest of the world.

The three trade agreements that the President just sent to the Congress is a clear sign of our commitment to lead on economic issues, and I urge Congress to quickly pass them. There may have been some who wondered why would the Jobs Council meet at the State Department, and there are a number of answers to that. Billions of dollars in trade and investment cross our borders every single day, 95 percent of the world’s consumers live outside of the United States, so I think you’d find little argument that we have a significant but untapped potential for job creation and economic growth that comes with attracting foreign investment to the United States to put Americans to work.

But to capitalize on that potential we have to have frank and open discussions among ourselves, and particularly with those of you who operate globally who make strategic investments every single day. We need to show not only that we are open for business, but to use every tool in our toolbox to attract it.

I want to thank Jeff Immelt and Antonio Perez in particular for their work on the upcoming Jobs and Competitiveness Council Report, which makes a strong case for establishing a comprehensive national investment initiative to make sure America is the world’s number one destination for investment.

I also want to thank Acting Commerce Secretary Blank and Under Secretary for Economic Affairs at the State Department Bob Hormats, who have both been working very hard on this issue, along with Fred Hochberg from the U.S. Export-Import Bank and Elizabeth Littlefield from the Overseas Private Investment Council. And unfortunately, Elizabeth wasn’t able to join us, but what we’re doing with OPIC and what more we can do should be a part of this important conversation.

So let me now turn to Acting Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank. Many of you know that Secretary Blank is a distinguished economist, she has served in very high positions in our government before, including in the White House in the 1990s, and her leadership on the Select USA Initiative has enabled the Commerce Department to become a very effective partner with American business. So let me turn it over to Rebecca.

PRN: 2011/1685